The government is reportedly faced with a dilemma over whether to proceed with the replacement of the president and top prosecutor of the Supreme Court before or after the snap elections on June 30 that were announced by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras late Sunday.
Earlier this month, the Justice Ministry launched proceedings to replace the court’s president Vasilios Peppas and prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou who will step down on June 30, having reached the obligatory retirement age.
A similar procedure was also launched to select three vice presidents at the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court.
The law stipulates that the candidates be heard by Parliament’s Committee on Institutions and Transparency but the last word rests with the cabinet.
The government’s initial plan was to wrap up proceedings by the end of June rather than in July, when these appointment have traditionally been made.
However, the call for snap elections could complicate matters and expose ruling SYRIZA to accusations of trying to manipulate country’s judiciary institutions to install its own choices at the country’s top court at the 11th hour.
According to sources, the cabinet may indeed proceed with these appointments as early as the next few days, with all the political cost that could entail at the ballot box.
Nonetheless, it is questionable if the government will reap any tangible benefits from the move as top judges appointed by a government are hardly bound to it if it does not remain in power.
An early appointment could also expose the new Supreme Court president and prosecutor to intense criticism and chip away at the prestige of the country’s judicial institutions.